Dear Fannie,
I'm a 20 year old bi girl. For the past two years I have wanted a boyfriend/girlfriend (although I admit I lean more towards boys) very, very badly. All my friends seemed to be in relationships except me. Now, I've finally found someone – my current and first boyfriend of nearly 5 months. I really love him, and he loves me... but I've been noticing a rift developing between me and my friends. I get the feeling that it's causing my friends to distance themselves from me. I even found out that one of my close friends decided to "take a break" from our friendship, but didn't tell me about it. What am I doing wrong? Some of my friends have told me that I spend a lot of time with my boyfriend, but I don't REALLY. I only see him a few times a week and on the weekends. But isn't that the POINT of having a boyfriend to begin with? To spend time with him? And I totally hang out with my friends when my boyfriend is around. How does one have a boyfriend AND friends?

Wondering in Washington

Well, Wondering, the way I hear it there are a few possibilities of what's going down: A) You have a bad boyfriend, B) You have bad friends, or C) You're a bad friend. Given the fact that he's your first boyfriend, I think it’s safe to say you're probably very smitten with him. Ah, young love. Too bad it doesn't come with a nutrition facts label that tells you some of the possible side effects of relationships include: excessive cuteness, obsession with relationship, alienation of friends and obliviousness to much of what’s going on around you. I’m not saying that you’re exhibiting any of these behaviors, but a lot of newbies to relationships tend to latch on harder than a queen at a Barney's sale. And that's the thing with relationships, when you're in one, it's hard to see anything outside of it.

If you’re at the point where your friends are commenting on the amount of time you spend with your boyfriend, it's probably more than noticeable. Not that spending time with your boyfriend is a bad thing, but don't be surprised when your friends are irked that they stop seeing you. You also mention that you don't feel like your friends should feel as upset as they do since you often coincide friend time with boyfriend time. Wondering – as much as your friends must love you, no one really wants to hang out as the third wheel, even if you are their best friend. You may not realize it, but your friends probably feel like they have to censor themselves when they're around you and your +1, which again isn't fun... and frankly, not fair of you.

Granted, there's also the possibility that your friends are the kind of people who don't like their friends to be in relationships (it's actually a lot more common that you'd imagine). But from your email it sounds like there's a perception problem on your end. I'd advise keeping friend time separate from boyfriend time for the most part (unless your friend has specifically invited your significant other along). You need to remember that friendships need just as much, if not more, maintenance than romantic relationships. And while romantic relationships come with certain fringe benefits, friendships also have benefits that should be considered when weighing the importance of your relationships. After all, as sickeningly Spice Girls this is: “bedmates come and go, friendship lasts forever.”

…Well, you know what I mean.

++ fannie

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